When You Don’t Like Yourself ~ Alex Lickerman M.D.

Some people have the misfortune to have been born to abusive parents who belittled them and prevented them from developing a healthy self-esteem. Others are born predisposed to view themselves in a negative light because of their physical appearance, a disability, or for no reason anyone, including themselves, knows. Research has consistently supported the notion that it’s difficult to be happy without liking oneself. But how can one learn to like oneself when one doesn’t?

WHAT PART OF OURSELVES DO WE DISLIKE?

 

People filled with self-loathing typically imagine they dislike every part of themselves, but this is rarely, if ever, true. More commonly, if asked what specific parts of themselves they dislike, they’re able to provide specific answers: their physical appearance, their inability to excel academically or at a job, or maybe their inability to accomplish their dreams. Yet when presented, for example, a scenario in which they come upon a child trapped under a car at the scene of an accident, that they recoil in horror and would want urgently to do something to help rarely causes them to credit themselves for the humanity such a reaction indicates.

Why do self-loathers so readily overlook the good parts of themselves? The answer in most cases turns out to relate not to the fact that they have negative qualities but to the disproportionate weight they lend them. People who dislike themselves may acknowledge they have positive attributes but any emotional impact they have simply gets blotted out.

THE SOURCE OF SELF-LOATHING

Which makes learning to like oneself no easy task. Many people, in fact, spend a lifetime in therapy in pursuit of self-love, struggling as if learning a new language as an adult rather than as a child.

Before such a change will occur, however, the essential cause of one’s self-loathing needs to be apprehended. By this I don’t mean the historical cause. The circumstances that initially lead people to dislike themselves do so by triggering a thought process of self-loathing that continues long after the circumstances that set it in motion have resolved, a thought process that continues to gain momentum the longer it remains unchallenged, much like a boulder picks up speed rolling down a mountain as long as nothing gets in its way. For example, your parents may have failed to praise you or support your accomplishments in school when you were young—perhaps even largely ignored you—which led you to conclude they didn’t care about you, which then led you to conclude you’re not worth caring about. It’s this last idea, not the memory of your parents ignoring you, that gathers the power within your life to make you loathe yourself if not checked by adult reasoning early on. Once a narrative of worthlessness embeds itself in one’s mind, it becomes extraordinarily difficult to disbelieve it, especially when one can find evidence that it represents a true account.

But a narrative is just that:  a story we tell ourselves. It may very well contain elements of truth—that we are unattractive, that we do fail a lot of the time, or that our parents didn’t find us all that lovable—but to proceed from facts such as these to the conclusion that we’re deserving only of our own derision constitutes a significant thought error.

THE TRUE SOURCE OF SELF-ESTEEM

The problem is that we common mortals can hardly avoid deriving our self-esteem from the wrong source—even those of us whose self-esteem is healthy. We look to what in Nichiren Buddhism is termed the “smaller self,” the parts of ourselves that seem better than those of others and to which we become overly attached. In other words, we ground our self-esteem in things about ourselves we perceive as unique: typically our looks, our skills, or our accomplishments.

But we only need to experience the loss of any one of these supportive elements to recognize the danger of relying on them to create our self-esteem. Looks, as we all know, fade. Unwanted weight is often gained. Illness sometimes strikes, preventing us from running as fast, concentrating as hard, or thinking as clearly as we once did. Past accomplishments lose their ability to sustain us the farther into the past we have to look for them.

I’m not arguing that basing our self-esteem on our positive qualities is wrong. But we should aim to base it on positive qualities that require no comparison to the qualities of others for us to value them. We must awaken to the essential goodness—to what in Nichiren Buddhism is termed our “larger self”—that lies within us all. If we want to fall in love with our lives—and by this I don’t mean the “we” of our small-minded egos—we must work diligently to manifest our larger selves in our daily lives. We must generate the wisdom and compassion to care for others until we’ve turned ourselves, piece by piece, into the people we most want to be.

In other words, if we want to like ourselves we have to earn our own respect. Luckily, doing this doesn’t require that we become people of extraordinary physical attractiveness or accomplishment. It only requires we become people of extraordinary character—something anyone can do.

A simple thought experiment supports this notion: think right now of your favorite person and ask yourself, what is it about them that attracts you the most? Odds are it isn’t their physical appearance or their accomplishments but rather their magnanimous spirit; the way they treat others. This is the key quality that makes people likable, even to themselves.

Treating others well, it turns out, is the fastest path to a healthy self-esteem. If you dislike yourself, stop focusing on your negative qualities. We all have negative qualities. There’s nothing special about your negativity, I promise you. Focus instead on caring for others. Because the more you care about others, I guarantee the more in turn you’ll be able to care about yourself.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to explore Dr. Lickerman’s home page, Happiness in this World(link is external).

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/201008/when-you-dont-yourself

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Table Talk-By Carol A

Hello Again!

This past few months have been a whirlwind of change, adventure, and introspection for me. The following is inspired by Director Ava DuVernay during a talk at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, discussing the importance of female voices alongside Mindy Kaling, Greta Gerwig, and Kristin Wiig: http://youtu.be/ikeCA1O7ri0 .

“The work we do affects the way we see ourselves and the way that we are seen. It is vital work. Just by our very presence, we speak loudly.”

-Ava DuVernay, Director of Selma, 2014.

We Speak with Passion.

So Trust your voice

Strength that comes from within,

Critiquing the present

Whether surrounded by the most prolific thinkers [or the least].

We Speak Earnestly-

Raw/Fierce/Delicate.

Leave your reservations at the door;

There’s no scorn here!

We Speak Loudly.

Speak your mind,

With sincerity, imagination, Wit.

Our only contract is Respect.

Create, remain present

Look beyond pressures and confines of your Everyday.

Come away inspired, transfixed,

Saddened by the raw,

Poignant stories that manifest during each moment.

Speak.

 

These Pin-Up Photos From ‘Shameless Photography’ Show That Every Body Is Gorgeous by Nina Bahadur

Loving the body positive message of this article and the campaign. Yes, woman do not appreciate and accept their bodies (I am one of them). This fact is unfortunate; I often find myself wondering what it would feel like if I really loved myself. This is a great read!


Anyone can be a gorgeous, glamorous pin-up model.

That’s the idea behind Shameless Photography, started by photographer Sophie Spinelle in 2009. Spinelle, alongside fellow photographers Carey Lynne and Maxine Nienow, aims to help clients feel beautiful and confident in their bodies during their photoshoots. The result is sexy, feminist, body-positive images.

(Some images below may be considered NSFW.)

shameless photography

As well as providing commercial photoshoots, Shameless hosts a yearly “Love Your Body” competition, inviting women to write love letters to their bodies for the chance to win a photoshoot with the Shameless team. More importantly, according to Spinelle, the letters create a sense of online community, and spread the message of body love.

“We get hundreds of amazing letters from around the world,” Spinelle told The Huffington Post. “People with cancer, rape survivors, mothers of seven, trans women, pole dancers — you name it. We post a selection of the letters and invite people to read them and share them.”

shameless photography

“Doing this work has transformed my life,” Spinelle told The Huffington Post. “I’ve met the most amazing people, and they’ve been brave enough to share their fears and dreams with me, and to have that become part of the photographs. I’ve learned how rare confidence really is, and how precious. You’d be amazed how many truly beautiful people have no idea that they’re beautiful, and it has a huge affect on what they feel is possible for their lives.”

shameless photography

Spinelle hopes that clients and strangers alike will be inspired by the images and learn to love their bodies.

“The most important audience for the Shameless pinups series is the models themselves,” Spinelle told HuffPost. “I hope that when they look at these images, they can see how truly powerful, inspiring, and soul-deep beautiful they really are.”

See more incredible photographs from Shameless Photography below.

shameless photography

shameless photography

shameless photography

shameless photography

shameless photography

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